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Month: November 2017

Fertig gelesen: All Systems Red

»I COULD HAVE BECOME a mass murderer after I hacked my governor module, but then I realized I could access the combined feed of entertainment channels carried on the company satellites.« This is how »All Systems Red« begins.

The protagonist in this book is a robot mercenary android, or Murderbot, as it refers to itself. In a universe of corporations and contracts, Expeditions and Exploration teams are taking these company supplied machines with the for their own safety, and for compliance reasons.


Fertig gelesen: River of Teeth

»In the early twentieth century, the Congress of our great nation debated a glorious plan to resolve the meat shortage in America. The idea was this: import hippos and raise them in Louisiana’s bayous. The hippos would eat the ruinously invasive water hyacinth; the American people would eat the hippos; everyone would go home happy. Well, except the hippo’s. They’d go home eaten.«

This plan, on which Congress did not follow through in our timeline, is the premise and the setting for Sarah Gailey’s alternate universe story “River of Teeth”.

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Power budgets for computing resources – portable and stationary

A cellphone or tablet is a fanless device. So is the 12″ Macbook. That means you can do whatever is possible at any point in time within a TDP of approximately 5W.

Here is the power consumption of my cellphone over a 12h period. The scale on the left is mW, down is discharge, up is recharge (plugged in). It’s basically limited to 5W, and that only for short periods of time.

Cellphone power over time. Green bar = plugged in. Yellow bar = Screen on.

These devices also have batteries, and when they are running on batteries, they need to be sleeping most of the time and have their display off. Whenever they are not dark and/or sleeping, they drain the battery, fast.

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Every Conversation ever held

So, let’s do this again, but this time cleanly. In a Facebook Post, Michael Seemann has been explaining why the Facebook App does not listen to every word you ever say, all of the time.

He is right. A telephone is a device with limited power supply, limited cooling and limited, metered connectivity. It has an operating system that monitors and manages these critical resources, hard. You can’t listen to things all of the time and expect not to be noticed. Like, “the battery is empty and my LTE budget is gone” noticed.

Other devices, an Alexa, a Sonos One or a Google Home, are on cabled power and unmetered Wifi. The could theoretically get away with listening all of the time.

So how much data is that? Let’s do the math.


Fertig gelesen: Children of Time

The people of Earth are on the verge of transcendence: They almost managed to create mind uploads, they are on the verge of creating true synthetic AI, they have been traveling to remote stars and are beginning to terraform worlds, on which they will seed Earth lifeforms and uplift them.

All this progress, though, draws the ire of militant terrorists from the “Non Ultra Nature” radicals, which culminates into the sabotage of Brin 2 lab while seeding a terraformed world, and at the same time the complete destruction of humanity and its in-system colonies back home.

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The Great German Chocolate Cream Divide

To the left: What goes into Nudossi. To the right: What goes into “Other” Chocolate Creams.

There is a fundamental and very German schism that still divides re-unified Germany. All German children growing up eating chocolate cream on their German bread, the way children in Nederland are eating Hagelslag instead. But while children in the former West grew up on Nutella, the children in the East got Nudossi.

Turns out, they managed to overtake the West without catching up (“Überholen ohne Einzuholen”) – Nudossi contains about 3 times more Nuts, and way less Oil. Still, if you look at the amount of sugar, neither mixture is exactly healthy.


Fertig gelesen: Sourdough

Lori Clary is a software engineer and silicon valley geek, programming embedded systems and robot arms at General Dexterity for a living. She’s living the silicon valley lifestyle – basically coding all day, collapsing in her hole of a non-appartment, and not having contact with real people at all.

With one exception: She’s ordering dinner from a delivery service that is run by two mysterious brothers, who make a mean spicy soup and crusty bread.

The brothers have to leave, due to visa issues, but they leave her with the sourdough culture. She’s learning to feed it, and to bake it, and soon she does not know what do with all the bread. Turns out people love her bread, and she needs to mass-produce it. Good thing that she’s working for a robot arm factory… Soon she’s joining a geeky underground farmers market with a techno-gothic flair.

Robin Sloan is the author of Mr Penumbra’s 24-hour bookstore, und Sloan manages to keep the writing style and the “Silcon Valley Geeks meet the real world” feel, transplanting it successfully into a new story.

Robin Sloan
EUR 5.49 (Kindle)


Neuland outreach to England

The BBC has an article about the good people of Templeton, Devon burning an effigy of an BT Openreach van over frustration with slow broadband speeds. The villagers say they were promised superfast broadband three years ago, but are still waiting, because BT says it’s the wrong kind of rural environment to put connectivity into.

Templeton, which is in England where Freiburg would be in Germany, is getting all of 0.7 megabits per second.